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Double Your Freelancing Conference 2015 Recap, Part 1

I recently attended Double Your Freelancing Conference, put on by Brennan Dunn in Norfolk, Virginia. It was two and half days packed full of networking and learning, but it was also full of actionable take-aways. I have tons of notes of things to do, books to read and people to start following. I found myself not only challenged to implement new behaviors, products and tools for myself, but also motivated to implement many of these strategies for my clients.

If you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, freelancer, contractor or thinking about becoming any of those, you should be hearing what these freelancing pioneers had to share. In the next two articles, I’m going to share some things that really impacted me about each of the talks, without giving away the conference. I highly encourage you to purchase video of the entire Double Your Freelancing Conference sessions. It’s only $99 and it’ll make your week or maybe even your career. Do it.

 

Wednesday

The event kicked off Wednesday evening with registration and a social at the Sheraton, where many folks stayed. I met some wonderful people, including UI/UX designer Matt Olpinski, Carlos Chacon of SQL Data Partners, and Jason Swett of Ben Franklin Labs. There definitely were too many people to list. The amazing thing was how varied our stories were but how similar our hustles are. There were people trying to grow their consultancies, people trying to transition from consultancy to product, and people starting to build their first SaaS.

 

Thursday

Things kicked off with James Clear. After his talk, I was ashamed I could not recall hearing of him before - his advice on habits and routines is simple but profound. James gave us a kick in the rear about developing better habits. He gave us a great exercise for defining our top priorities and showed how anything that is not those top priorities is eating at our success. So, if I start telling you no, it’s probably because I’m being ruthless to my priorities.

Next up was Sarah Bray of Gather the People. Sarah’s talk focused in on a concept of people and content we like posited against value added content and creating a favorable balance between the two. She encouraged us to share every step of our journey and create our work “with” people rather than “for” people, all while staying true to ourselves in the way we speak and share. Ultimately, Sarah’s talked helped me feel better about saying things that don’t suck. I have felt like I had share a certain way because that’s either A - how everyone else successful is doing it or B - I want to sound professional. It’s ok to be me.

Then, we heard from the great Kurt Elster. Kurt looks like he belongs on the streets of Los Angeles, hanging out with movie stars. The guy just comes across as cool - think Fonzie of Happy Days without a motorcycle. I digress. Kurt spoke about marketing automation or what he calls “freelancer life hacks”. We heard tips for simplifying social media, creating lead magnets and qualifying prospects. I definitely got a quality handful of tips from this talk that I am totally going to implement *makes a few quick to-do list items*. I already admired Kurt and his ways prior to this talk. I love sending his Magic Email.

Next was Mojca Mars, owner of Super Spicy Media. Mojca is from Slovenia, and is totally spunky and energetic. She encouraged us to be true to our personal brands, be engaging, and be an authority or basically, don’t act like a big, boring corporate business. She shared some valuable ideas for creating engagement with others as we try to attract business and some interesting ways to connect with others on social media who may not know us yet, without looking like creeps.

Is your mind blown yet? There are still two more talks to go.

 

Next we turned to Jonathan Stark. I have read Jonathan’s blog posts and heard him on podcasts before, talking about the same topic he did today. His message is about hourly billing being like a cancer, how it’s terrible for an agency because when times are bad, you’re almost encouraged to fire your best employees, and how billing by the hour isn’t the best trustworthy agreement for either a developer or a client. You can read more about his arguments against hourly billing over at https://expensiveproblem.com. Aside from hating on hourly billing, Jonathan gave us some interesting strategies and logic for pricing proposals and handling clients who self-diagnose. Good talk. I’m not likely to ditch hourly altogether. I expect to be paid when I do work for clients and I can’t always foresee their needs post project. I don’t feel completely comfortable billing for the unforeseen (yet).

The last talk of the day was Allan Branch of Less Accounting. Big takeaways I had from his talk including realizing that I should define my own success and that his (or anyone else’s) path is different from my own. His tips for hiring were practical. He encouraged us to hire and be ready to let bad choices go. Allan says to hire to free up time to do things that create more customers or when that hire will push you toward your definition of success. He had some interesting advice for hiring developers and customer support people as well. Somehow, Allan’s talk felt like it was comedy hour. It was a welcome relief and he managed to slip in some motivational gems.

 

Thursday Night

Thursday evening, we went out for more networking… on a boat. It was awesome. I had brought my husband and three-year-old with me so there was a little less networking this time for me, though I did get to meet and talk shop with some fellow parents of little ones who weren’t put off by the lady that brought her kid to the adult party, like Greg Norman (hi Greg!). I also got to hang out with Brennan’s wife and one of his daughters, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and my daughter made two new best friends between them. Win!

 

That feels like it took forever just to get through day one! I’ll cover day two in my next update. If you want a way to keep up, follow me on Twitter or Facebook. I will share updates there. I also have an RSS feed link somewhere that should really be obvious right about now…. Oh, there it is, Idestini Articles RSS. And, if you are already sold and ready to watch the sessions yourself, go buy the DYFConf session videos from Brennan.

About the author

Abby Sims

Abby Sims is passionate about growing small and mid-size businesses through well-done websites and custom software. She has 18 years experience in the web and software development industry. She has worked in every developer position imaginable on a broad range of web and software development projects for non-profits, governmental agencies and public and private companies, really large and small. She is a pragmatic developer who likes to get things done.

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